Chapter 11: Weary
After the spiritual attack, I began to get a little homesick, and I also became fearful that another attack would happen. In general, things in my life seemed to be falling apart again, and I began to get anxious about never amounting to anything.
It all started when the woman I nannied for began to treat me with more disrespect than usual, and had actually started involving me in her nightly dinner-table squabbles with her husband. So, after much deliberation I decided to give my notice. After nine months, I was done. I knew it was risky to leave my job without another position in place, but I felt triggered by the way my employer treated me. This led to a sudden urge to get away from her, no matter the cost.
The nanny agency that represented me wasn’t pleased with my decision, but found me another short-term nanny assignment nonetheless. This was enough to tide me over until I could find something more permanent. However, after a month of working part-time with no job prospects in sight, I decided to visit a competing nanny agency. This new agency treated me wonderfully, and found me an interview within just a few days.
Driving up to the house for the interview, I was astounded to behold a beautiful property by the edge of the coastline. I had never stepped inside an honest to goodness mansion before, and my jaw dropped at the beauty of it all. With floors made of marble, the house resembled a museum and had a sort of grandness about it. I was already impressed at this point, but when I received a tour of the ‘backyard’, my head began to spin. I had never seen anything like this. As we stepped onto the back porch, there was a balcony that overlooked the entire back of the estate, and below us was a spot of grass encircled by perfectly manicured hedges. Just beyond the hedges, were small walkways that led down the hill towards the pool house. As if that weren’t grand enough, the pool had an ocean-side view—abutting an estuary of the Pacific. From the viewpoint of the back porch, it seemed as if the pool and the ocean were part of the same body of water– absolutely breathtaking.
After the tour, I was so impressed that my judgment was severely clouded. I enjoyed the interview and the job seemed like a good fit, but most of all I was starstruck at the idea of working in an actual mansion.
Everything about the job seemed fine and within my range of capabilities….everything except for one thing—the family did not have any air-conditioning in the main house, not even window units. They did have one room with a cooling unit for emergencies, but the rest of the house was sans a/c. The lady of the house could sense my apprehension about this, but she assured me that since they lived near the water the ocean breeze was sufficient enough to cool down the house.
Being so impressed with the estate and feeling the urgent need for a full-time job, I hastily agreed to accept the position. I was a little worried about summer heat, but everyone assured me it didn’t really get that hot in Seattle. I was told that I was being silly for fretting about that, so I decided everyone was right and I should just relax.
As it turned out, I would soon discover that I wasn’t being silly about the summer heat at all. It was the month of May, and the temperature had already crept up to 85 degrees–which was unusual for Seattle. Getting proactive, I decided to call my landlord for guidance on installing a window unit, as I wasn’t about to be unprepared again for the next hot day. Much to my surprise, the landlord denied my request to install a window air-conditioner, and stated that he didn’t remember agreeing to that request in the first place. He advised me to get a portable air-conditioner instead.
Well, I was pretty upset, but I didn’t want to quibble. I just wanted to get problem solved. However, the cost for portable air-conditioners at that time was 3 times the cost of a small window unit. Having been in between jobs for a few months, I didn’t have much money for that. Luckily, I was able to borrow the money from a family member, but I knew I would have to repay them and soon. The portable air-conditioner couldn’t have come at a better time, as the temperature was suddenly in the 90s! Here it was, mid May in Seattle and it was 91/92 degrees. I was at my wit’s end. This was not what I had signed up for, I thought.
I tried to keep my new job, but it was simply too hot for me once the mid-day temperatures began to rise. The house was not cooled down by the ocean like I was promised. Panicked, I called the nanny agency and told them what was happening. They actually understood, and said they would try to find me a family with central air-conditioning in the house. They did warn me that it was rare in Washington to have air-conditioning because it never got this hot. Apparently, even some office buildings didn’t have air-conditioning there, not that I could work an office job anyways with my carpel tunnel, but I was still surprised to hear it. Well great, I thought—I would have to quit another nanny job.
I gave notice at my current employer’s, and told them I wasn’t sure if I could work through the standard 2 week notice or not. If the weather cooled down to normal May temps, then I could help them. If not, I would have to play it by ear. They were understanding, and suggested I see a specialist about my heat condition. I knew they were right, but I had no health insurance as a nanny. I remember feeling ashamed at even having such a ridiculous health problem to begin with.
I was in denial and judging myself constantly. This made it very difficult for me, as even I was at odds with my own health condition. It didn’t help matters that my former roommates in Seattle thought I was overreacting to the heat issues, and I started to doubt myself. I wondered if this health problem was all in my head. Growing up, some members of my family had told me that my asthma was all in my head, so I had a natural tendency to doubt my own experiences. It seemed to be a pattern for me.
A few days later, I received a call from the nanny agency and they had good news. I was offered a full-time position with a recently widowed man, who had 5 children. He would be willing to install central air-conditioning for me, if I would be willing to sign a contract promising to be a live-in nanny for at least 5 years. This offer reminded me of one of my favorite movies, The Sound of Music, and I was very tempted to take it. However, I just couldn’t commit to staying 5 years with one family after the year I’d just had. I also didn’t want to give up my privacy, and have to live with strangers. If I didn’t have my own place, I couldn’t invite Tommy to visit me. How would I have a love life if I lived in a house with 5 kids, I wondered. With a shaky sense of resoluteness, I declined the offer. The decision had been made, and I would return back home.
Somehow I felt more empowered this time. Yes, things had fallen apart and my best laid plans had crashed down around me again…BUT this time the universe gave me an out. It was finally my choice to stay or go. I chose to return to Oklahoma this time with a sense of pride instead of shame. I loved Seattle, but I didn’t love how difficult it was to find air-conditioning. I felt it was time to begin making moving arrangements. My mother had agreed to let me stay with her again while I looked for a job. Even though she and I had our issues, my mom was always my one safe place in a chaotic world. At that time, we had sort of a love-hate relationship but she was the one person who would always be there for me when I fell, when I needed a soft place to land.